Visiting Harding-Jones Paper

Located just outside of Middletown, Ohio, the Harding-Jones Paper Company was one of few early paper mills that still remain nearly intact in the state of Ohio. A significant example of early Ohio industry, the mill was mostly owned by the Harding and Jones families for generations. It was also located along the Miami-Erie Canal.

When it opened in 1865, the Harding-Jones plant manufactured fine writing paper and had an initial daily capacity of 2,500 pounds of paper. By 1870, the mill needed a company town and Excello – named after a brand of paper the company produced, was founded. Shortly after, a Corliss steam engine was installed, followed by an Edison generator, which was just the fifth that was built by Edison. A rolling machine, which took pulp to finished product in one assembly line, was installed in 1897.

The Excello operation was producing 44,000 pounds of paper per day by the 1970s but due to an aging facility and outdated equipment, was closed on April 30, 1990. Although listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Harding-Jones Paper Company Historic District, there has been no maintenance or upkeep on the structures and several are in various stages of collapse.


  1. My grandfather & my dad worked @ Harding & Jones, as well as myself. We were all stationary steam engineers. Dad worked there during the depression & and he often took me to work with him. The Miami Erie canal still had water in it and ran behind the mill boiler room. The engines had been removed from the engine room, but a small turbine generator & had been used during the WW2 years. It had been shut down but was still in the old engine room. I fired the water tube boiler as the old HRT boilers had been torn out. The canal had been filled in, but the Excello locks are still across the highway from the mill. I remember sitting on the beater room steps with my dad and water was spurting through the old lock gates.

    • My dad and grandfather worked at the mill, too. My dad in the mid-60’s. My grandfather likely before that. My dad cut paper and my grandfather was watchman (I think).

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